France has introduced a "picnic tax" on non-recyclable throwaway plates and cutlery to encourage consumers to buy more eco-friendly products. The tax is the first stage of a programme which will eventually apply to nineteen categories of goods including fridges, washing machines, televisions, batteries, wooden furniture and packaging.

The scheme will be revenue neutral because the money raised from the taxes will be used to give tax breaks to environmentally friendly goods. A similar "bonus-malus" system for cars, under which an extra tax is imposed on the most heavily polluting vehicles while less polluting ones get a tax break, has already been introduced. From next year, buyers of heavily polluting cars and SUVs will pay extra tax while buyers of fuel-efficient cars will receive a bonus of up to $7,000.

The tax is levied on the importers and distributors of the goods.